When God Was Silent

Last night we left the Good Friday service in silence as we usually do. And so we sit today, on Holy Saturday, in that silence. Though it is not so silent for us. We took the kids to an Easter egg hunt today. Then we met some friends at the Y for climbing and swimming.

That first Holy Sabbath following Christ's crucifixion would have been drenched in an uncomfortable silence for it was a day when God was silent.

The Son of God was dead--death placed him in Hades, separated from God.

The disciples sat together in stunned silence. I imagine they would have been unable to worship at the Temple that day. Their Messiah whom they expected to overthrow the oppressors was dead. God had not pulled through.

I'm guessing those who were witnesses were shook up after the confusion and chaos of Good Friday (what kind of person goes to a crucifixion anyway?). At least one centurion left questioning why an innocent man was executed. The religious leaders maybe left feeling smug or relived to have that troublesome Nazarene out of their way, but I have a feeling they were unsettled the next day.

And here we are. Last night we heard the story of the Son of God being hung on a cross, and it is not yet Easter morning. We all have times in our lives when God is silent. Several saints experienced years of it.

Like the disciples huddled in the upper room, we ask "What next?" It feels like God has abandoned us; His plans changed and He's not doing what we thought He'd do. It feels like all hope is lost. It feels empty and lonely.

And so we wait in the emptiness. Wait for God to speak again. Wait for answers. Wait for direction.

We can only be reassures that we are not alone in the waiting.


Born to Be Crucified

At school I like to spend my 30 minutes of break sitting outside. Our school is owned by a Catholic church and in their courtyard is a statue with a couple benches around it. The statue is of the Virgin Mary holding a very young Jesus. Yesterday, for the first time in several months, it was warm enough for me to go out and enjoy the sunshine, birds chirping, and fresh air.

It struck my during this Holy Week, the unease of sitting before the Christ Child--the very one whose birth we celebrated a few months ago--knowing we are about to mark His death on the church calendar. Uncomfortably I note that the babe, about whom we sing idyllic carols of praise at Christmas, was born for the purpose of dying. Of course, His purpose was much greater--to show us love and how to live. But God gave us His Son to be our sacrificial lamb--the Pascal Lamb the Jews slaughter each Passover because the lamb's blood saved them from being visited by the angel of death; the "lamb" (goat) the High Priest sacrificed on Yom Kippur to atone for sins.

I cringe knowing that the Infant Jesus will grow up only to be flogged, beaten, and nailed to a cross where He will die an agonizing death. I cringe because I know He did nothing to deserve such a death, but that He went to the cross willingly on my behalf. I cringe because it was my sins that put Him there.

* * * * * * *

Tonight is Maunday Thursday. It marks the eve when Jesus gathered with His closest friends. The eve when the Master disrobed Himself and washed His disciples grimy, dirty feet. The night when Jesus took the cup of wine and the Passover bread and gave thanks for them, despite their representation of His blood which would be poured out and His body which would be broken.

The name "Maunday" comes from the Latin maundatum, which means "commandment." That evening, while taking a towel and a basin of water and washing feet like a lowly servant, Jesus commanded His followers to do the same. To serve. To love.  

* * * * * * *

Tomorrow we will go to church to mark Good Friday. An odd name. Most would see nothing good about a man being sentenced to death--a death carried out upon a hill for all to see. A death where a naked man hangs nailed to wooden beams where he slowly asphyxiates as he can no longer breathe under the weight of his own body.

At that moment in time, the only goodness is the fact that the man is the Son of God. Yet even in that moment, God deserts Him.

His mother watches the scene unfold, unbelieving at what is happening. Her Son--the one whom the Holy Spirit placed within her, the one whom God said would be the Savior--was being crucified like a common criminal.

Her disciples were there--the ones who had followed Him for three years as their Master. The ones who had their feet washed by Him, who ate the bread and drank from the cup. The ones who had deserted, disavowed, and betrayed Him the night before.

And we are there, knowing it is because of our rebellion and disobedience that Jesus is in such agony. Yet it is also because of the greatest love in the world. And it is simply because of this love that we can even dare call such a scene "good."


9 Reasons to Send Your Child to Bible Camp this Summer

I signed our oldest son up for summer camp today. It'll be the first summer he gets to go for a whole week. Two years ago he went by himself for the first time for a two-night camp. It wasn't easy to let him go, but we knew he'd do fine and love it, which he did. He was supposed to go last year for another 2-night camp, but because of all the heavy rains in northern Minnesota, the camp was flooded out, so he didn't get to go. He could go again this summer for 2-nights, but he definitely wants to go for the whole week. He says he's ready (though he wants to take a picture of his family with him).

I'm a huge proponent of Bible camp. I spent my childhood going every to every summer camp I could along with every spring and winter retreat possible. My family spent almost every Memorial Day Weekend at camp when I was growing up. My parents met at camp. We've been taking our family to camp on Memorial Day weekend for going on four years. I worked at camp for 4 summers and later for almost 5 years of full-time ministry. I did my Masters centered around camping ministry. And while other camps are surely good, here's why I think every child should try attending a good Bible camp this summer

1. Children learn independence. Mom and dad aren't there for a week. They learn they can survive without their parents around, but also how much they do love their parents. They learn to follow schedules while making their own decisions about things. Independence is the ultimate goal of parenthood: we want to raise children to be able to live well on their own.

2. Children learn to make friends with kids they haven't met before. This of course is a skill they learn at school as well, but there's something about making friends with people you're not around all the time. I remember writing letters to friends I made when I was a camper. We learned to communicate from distances and anticipate seeing each other several months later. I'm still friends with some of them today.

3. Children learn to value community. I, for one, think this is a good thing. Campers learn to live in a small space with around 7-10 other people for a week. They learn that their actions effect the group. They (hopefully) learn the value of cleanliness. Camp often has many elements of team building; cabin groups rely upon each other to succeed. They learn that others care for them.

4. Children learn the importance of money management. We send our son with a few dollars to do what he wants with during the week at camp. He can use it to make crafts, buy things from the gift shop, give to the missions offering, or of course spend on candy in the canteen. If he spends it all the first day, he learns that he can't buy anything else the rest of the week. It hopefully provides a lesson in using money wisely as well as figuring out what is important to them (nothing makes me prouder than when he doesn't bring anything home because he gave what he had left in the offering).

5. Children learn they are loved beyond their family circle.  Hopefully each child going to camp is fully aware of their parents' love for them. Hopefully that is shown through at least one letter during the week. Hopefully their church family also shows them love. But while they're at camp, they'll also discover that their counselors--perfect strangers--also love them. Just for being themselves. And most importantly, they'll also discover the overwhelming love of God.

6. Children learn that worship can be fun. In our camp's promotional video this year, over-and-over again in their interviews with campers, the kids said chapel was their favorite part of camp. There are fun, exuberant songs (as well as the mellower ones). There are often engaging skits. There are great speakers. There is laughter. There is something about worshipping with a hundred other children their same age. They discover that worship doesn't just fit into the box they've created for worship from their experiences at church. It is much vaster and exciting to explore and participate in.

7. Children learn new skills. It was at camp where I learned to canoe. I learned to camp outside around a campfire. I learned to shot a bow and arrow. I learned drama. I made wax candles. I learned to step outside my comfort zone. I learned to make friends. I tried new sports and games. And with all this learning going on, I had fun.

8. It's good, clean (though often dirty) fun. Though there were games I hated as a camper, and would try to avoid participating in, for the most part I loved all the creative activities at camp--especially the big camp games (which sometimes ended with very dirty campers who needed to jump in the lake). I got to stay up late and see the stars at night while sitting around a campfire with a bunch of other kids singing goofy (as well as worshipful) songs. I had to be involved in a zany cabin skit. There were often silly challenges involving marshmallows, jello, or whipped cream. There was plenty of fun to keep me coming back year after year. And that trend is continuing with my son.

9. Lives are changed. To me this is the biggest difference between Bible Camp and other camps. Sure, lives may be changed at a sports camp or arts camp, but not in the same magnitude. Each summer countless campers make decisions to follow Jesus or renew their commitments to following Him. They leave with intentions to make a difference in their schools--loving the outcast, helping the needy, being positive role models. They leave camp wanting to help in their communities more. Informal polls show that many pastors, missionaries, and church leaders were highly influenced by Bible camp. I remember seeing many campers make decisions to explore how their lives may be used in full-time ministry. And many of those who aren't called to ministry desire to live their lives for Christ wherever He calls them. Nearly every camper goes home desiring to be a better person.

So while I may say a tearful good-bye to my son when he leaves for a week of camp this summer, I'm so thankful that he wants to be there.


Sunday Night Musings: Of Kings and Palm Branches

My Lord came riding into town on a donkey (we heard this tonight at church from Luke 19:28-40).

He wasn't in a chariot or even on some noble steed. Not even a full-grown donkey. It was a colt. Hadn't even been ridden before. He didn't receive red-carpet treatment, but a path of palm leaves.

It doesn't make sense.
1. You don't ride into the capital city being proclaimed king. Not when Herod is on the throne; not when an army from a conquering country is occupying your land.
2. You don't ride into the capital city being proclaimed king on the back of a young donkey. You don't ride in on something known for stubbornness and whose name has become part of many a good curse. If you're going to be king, do it right. Come in on an elephant or something more stately than a little jackass. Come in with army with weapons and force to occupy the city, not citizens with palm leaves.
3. You don't ride into the capital city without some significant backing. If the religious leaders are telling you to have the crowd be silent, you're not going to get very far.

* * * * * * *

Much has been made recently about the way Pope Francis has claimed the papal role, and his life before then. When he was in his previous role, he shunned a lavish lifestyle, living simply in a small apartment and taking public transportation.

I saw a picture posted on facebook (which I can't seem to track down, so let me know if you're aware of this one) comparing the "throne" that the previous Pope Benedict sat in with the one of the current Pope. The latter's was much less ostentatious. And while I don't think Pope Benedict was necessarily a "flashy" person, Pope Francis has certainly brought a much more humble position to the papacy.

Hopefully, what he models will catch on. Humility is a wonderful virtue to pass on to others.

* * * * * * *

I wonder if I would be there waving my palm branch, shouting "Hosanna!" Or would I be scoffing at His entrance on a colt? The people were expecting a mighty warrior to be Messiah--someone who would topple governments and drive out oppressors.

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, He turned expectations upside down (even though Zechariah prophesied that the Messiah would arrive on a donkey's colt). He came in absolute humility. He came giving sight to the blind, dignity to the outcast, and food for the hungry. He came bringing hope.

He came, not demanding allegiance, but praise. He told the Pharisees that if the people were silenced, then the stones would cry out in praise. He didn't demand fealty, but invited people to follow Him.

Jesus entered knowing what was before Him--Gethsemane and the cross. Despite knowing that excruciating death would end the week ahead, Jesus still came to Jerusalem. He didn't do what was expected of Him. His still doesn't.

Sometimes I just need to open my eyes to the unexpectedness of Jesus a little more. I need to not try and force my expectations upon Him. I need to humbly follow, calling Him Lord, and singing His praises.


Thought for the Day: Good Works

We don't do good works to be saved. We do good works because we are saved. Loving others flows from a heart fully aware of God's love for oneself.


Sunday Night Musing: Trudging through the Wilderness

You remember when you were of smaller stature than you are now and you would try to walk through deep snow? It took a lot of work. You'd pull one foot out, lift it over the snow, and try to place it a short distance in front of you, but it was arduous. And you had to keep repeating that pattern to get anywhere.

But then, if you came across someone else's tracks, and you walked in their grooves (especially if a parent made them), it was much easier.

Maybe a winter scenario doesn't relate to you (our resident seminarian at church who preached tonight shared a story of snowshoeing and coming across someone else's tracks which made it much easier). Many times I have hiked through the woods and been on a path of my own creating. It's fun. It's adventurous. But after a while it gets tiring to keep scrambling over downed trees, pushing aside branches, schlepping through miry wet spots, or forging a path through tight brambles. I breathe a sigh of relief when I finally come back to a real trail.

In Isaiah 43:19 God says, "I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland" (NLT). It's that same sort of image--suddenly there is a way. You know for certain which direction to go and the traveling is much easier. You don't need to be parched anymore. Refreshing water is available. 

Right now I'm at a point in life where the way doesn't seem too clear. Once my wife is finished with her doctoral degree in a few years, I'm not sure what my career path will look like. I'm not sure where we'll be living. Will I be back in ministry or will I be able to do more writing? Will I be the one in grad school pursuing a degree so I could be a professor some day? And if so, in what? Will we still be living in a city or will we finally be able to move back to the country? 

So I like the thought of God making a pathway through the wilderness. When I try to make a pathway on my own, I end up in bad places sometimes. And it's a lot more work. But Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." 

Still, it's not always easy not knowing where the path is going to go. I want a clear, well-defined route. When I drive somewhere, if I look at the route on a map ahead of time, I can generally get there very easily. But we're not often given that clarity. Just a promise and hope along with the general directions (love God and love your neighbor as you love yourself).

* * * * * * * *

I really like one other piece of Isaiah 43 that we heard in church tonight: “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!" (43:18-19, NIV). God's not saying to not pay attention to the past at all (right before this Isaiah reminds Israel of God's faithfulness in making a way for them through the Red Sea during the Exodus); He is saying that the sinful cycles of our lives, the bad decisions we've made, the regrets we have--these do not define us and our future (especially in God's eyes). He is going to do new things in our lives. 

So while I have a hard time with not knowing the path ahead, I rest well in the knowledge that is a good path. On it will be freedom, forgiveness, mercy, and love. And with that ahead, I can keep moving forward.


More on Writing a Book and Stroking an Ego

So, I didn't write a book to make money off it. So far I've paid some in for typesetting and haven't seen a cent of profit yet. I'm hoping to at least break even. Anne Lamott, in her book Bird by Bird, says that you can't write for the money--it seldom becomes a real career. You write for the sake of writing.

Still, I have a fragile ego, I confess. I can easily get overly wrapped up in wanting people to like me--in wanting to be acknowledged for what I do.

I too frequently go to Amazon.com and see what my book's rating is--if it's jumped up or down in the ranks. And I get a slight ego boost when it has a better rank (let's be honest, though--it's mostly been between #500,000 and #1,500,000). I don't even know that the ranks mean anything until you've achieved a ranking less than triple digits. There are a lot of books out there.

But I find myself checking Amazon too often, just to see how the ranking is doing--if it's gone up or down, if it's at a number I can feel good about. It really doesn't do me any good to check it, but I do almost daily. So I probably should not go to Amazon.com that frequently (though there are some old books I'm trying to find). It does nothing to help me out psychologically to know whether or not my book is selling well.

But I'm also largely responsible for marketing. If I want the book to do well in any way, I need to try and help it sell. I'm still figuring out how to do that (especially within the realm of working full-time and having a family).

So I find myself in this odd place of balancing my ego and needing to promote myself in order to succeed. It's kind of like the whole job-searching process where you have to use your resume and be selling yourself in the hopeful interview that follows.

After all, I do want to write a book that matters--that touches someone in a special way (whether I'm writing fiction or non-fiction, blog or magazine article). I just need to keep reminding myself (like I need to in all areas of life) that who I am is not wrapped up in what I do. My self-worth is not based upon my worldly success. Writing books may not be the best profession for someone who struggles with that. Still, I enjoy it, and usually I get as much out of the process as I do reading any book. So I hope to keep at it.

* * * * * * *

And since we're here, I might as well provide an opportunity to purchase the book (now available on Kindle as well as in paperback). In addition to Amazon, you can also find it at Barnes and Noble as well as through the publisher, Wipf and Stock.


In the Details?

"I want to know His [God's] thoughts, the rest are details."
   - Albert Einstein 
(born this day in 1879)


Reading and Lent

I've been reading a book (which I'll talk about more in a later post) during Lent that is a series of talks given by Basil Pennington who was the abbot of the Cistercian monastery, Our Lady of the Holy Spirit in Georgia. His talks focused around the Rule of Benedict, which I've gotten to know in the last few years. Many monastics use it as a guide for their communal life. And it is just a guide. Benedict himself acknowledges that monasteries will need to adapt and disregard some of it as needed. Therein lies the genius: knowing that it shouldn't be overly-rigid.

Our church uses the Rule of Benedict as a guide for living together. Clearly, much of it needs to be adapted as we aren't monastics living under the same roof. But the principles are helpful. Like children learning from adults and vice versa. Like practicing hospitality. Like being obedient and seeking peace. Like valuing work and prayer.

One of the things I like about Benedict's rule is the sense of rhythm and his adjustment for the seasons. Like in the winter monks are permitted an earlier bed time since it gets dark earlier. And during holy days, the rhythm of the monastery changes. In chapter 48 Benedict says:
During the days of Lent, they should be free in the morning to read until the third hour, after which they will work at their assigned tasks until the end of the tenth hour. During this time of Lent each one is to receive a book from the library, and is to read the whole of it straight through. These books are to be distributed at the beginning of Lent. Above all, one or two seniors must surely be deputed to make the rounds of the monastery while the brothers are reading. Their duty is to see that no brother is so apathetic as to waste time or engage in idle talk to the neglect of his reading, and so not only harm himself but also distract others. (RB 48:14-18)

As a bibliophile I love the decree that there should be some focused reading time during Lent. I also chuckle at the suggestion to have to senior monks checking to make sure everyone is using that time wisely. Benedict's principle here, though, is that Lent is a time for inward reflection and growth.

* * * * * * *

Basil Pennington writes in his book Listen with Your Heart that "The meaning of Lent is a time when we really stop and ask ourselves, What is the meaning of it all? Who am I? What are we called to? It is a time to ask the deep questions and come to know the joy of life's meaningfulness."

It's a good quest to stop and ask those questions. Like much of the year, Lent tends to be full, so without intent I don't take the time to quiet myself and reflect (so I'm writing this post to help me make that time and think about those questions).

What questions are on your heart this Lenten season?


Sunday Night Musings: Prodigality

Our text for church tonight was a familiar one: the parable of The Prodigal Son. I confess that I sometimes tune out the story when I hear sermons on it. I feel like I've heard it so many times from all the angles:
  • the regular story of redemption and love
  • the dramatic retelling where the speaker puts himself in a modern-day twist on the tale
  • the sermon with the historical and cultural background (like how by asking for his inheritance the younger brother was telling his father that he was dead to him, how a respectable father would never pull up his robes and run, etc.)
  • the message as related to Rembrandt's painting of the son and father's reunion
So I admit there are times I don't focus as well as a sermon on the story. Still, like every good story, there is something new from it each time. I also confess that I need these times to blog after a sermon to ingest the sermon more for me personally. If you get something out of these blogs, too, then it's an added blessing.

The Prodigal Son is one of those stories Jesus told where I find myself identifying with each of the characters:

1. There are plenty of times in life when I'm the younger son. He's the one who wants what the world has to offer. He turns his back on the love found at home so that he can see what else is out there. He wants to enjoy life no matter what the cost. He's selfish and greedy. I have been that younger son more times than I like to admit.

2. When I was younger I thought the older son was in the right. After all, he was respectful and faithful to his father, but he didn't get a feast or any recognition. I have clearly identified with him. And I still do at times--times when I desire recognition for my good deeds, when I want to see justice happen, when I am feeling righteously indignant. The older brother was short-sighted, self-centered, and judgmental. I, too, have been him far too many times.

3. And now as a father myself, I can identify with the father in the story. I may not be perfect, but I know that on some level I will love my sons no matter what they do.

I think as a child, I often thought the word "prodigal" had to do with running away and returning. The word actually refers to being recklessly extravagant, lavish, or giving profusely. The younger son, of course, was wastefully extravagant.

But the real lavishness comes from the father. Indeed, currently the trend is to call the story "The Prodigal Father." That's where the real point of the story lies--in how great the Father's love is. I think if we (I) can grasp that, we've gotten the whole point of the Bible, the whole point of Jesus' incarnation. May we be as prodigal in our love as well.

Art and the Stations of the Cross

For a few years now our church has invited everyone to make a Lenten art work--either one of the Stations of the Cross or a scene from the last week of Jesus' life depending on the year's focus. This year is the Stations of the Cross. Normally Anders, our constantly-drawing eight-year old, is the one who has made his own station. This year he didn't want to but our Kindergartener did.

He chose to do the scene where Jesus dies on the cross. He wasn't sure how to do it. He thought about drawing, but he wasn't sure that's what he wanted to do.

We've seen some creative stations in the past. There's usually one made from Legos every time. I brought up making some salt dough and sculpting the scene. First he started sculpting a stand-up scene. It took a while to convince him that the dough wouldn't make it standing up through the baking process and would likely get broken later if it did.

So he made a relief scene. It was important to him to include the two thieves dying on the cross next to Jesus since they were there when he died.

Mine was the station where John and Mary are in front of the cross. I don't paint well-enough to capture the scene, so I thought I'd go for a more representational approach. I don't confess to it entirely being a by-product of my own creative forces--I looked at some ideas online.

We were encouraged to think of a reflective question for the scene. For me it asks, "Who does Jesus ask you to take care of in their time of suffering? Who does Jesus give to take care of you when you are going through hardships?" Facing death, Jesus gave his mother to his dearest disciple; He told John to love Mary as his own mother. I think it was an intentional example as much as a practical need.

I haven't prayed through the prayer stations yet. The artistic process was a prayer for me. Not necessarily a good prayer, but a prayer nonetheless. 

Sometimes the prayer is having that part of the Lenten journey stay with us. I think for Nils, that's the case. He is beginning to know the story more deeply.

That may be part of the point of the Stations of the Cross--that those stories become part of our story, that the pain and suffering Jesus went through is something we can identify with in our pain and suffering. We know we're not alone. We begin to understand how greatly we are loved. We begin to belong in community. We begin to find the hope that is produced through the Lenten journey.


Of Church Boycotts and Fig Trees

Far too many followers of Jesus think that the bad things in your life are a direct result of your sin. And the worse the things happening to you, the worse you've sinned. You're probably aware of a certain church (I'm not going to even dignify naming them) that boycotts funerals for soldiers and other events with signs reading "God hates fags." They seem to believe that people's grief over the loss of a loved one is the result of God's judgment on sins--especially homosexuality. Personally, those people really make me mad.

Tonight at church we heard two seemingly odd sections from Luke (13:1-9, NLT):
About this time Jesus was informed that Pilate had murdered some people from Galilee as they were offering sacrifices at the Temple. “Do you think those Galileans were worse sinners than all the other people from Galilee?” Jesus asked. “Is that why they suffered? Not at all! And you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God. And what about the eighteen people who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them? Were they the worst sinners in Jerusalem? No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will perish, too.”
Then Jesus told this story: “A man planted a fig tree in his garden and came again and again to see if there was any fruit on it, but he was always disappointed. Finally, he said to his gardener, ‘I’ve waited three years, and there hasn’t been a single fig! Cut it down. It’s just taking up space in the garden.’“The gardener answered, ‘Sir, give it one more chance. Leave it another year, and I’ll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer. If we get figs next year, fine. If not, then you can cut it down.’”
Unfortunately some Bibles title the first section as "Repent or Perish." While this message is there--that without turning away from our sins and turning to God we will face eternal death--Pastor Jan pointed out that it's not the main message.

While Jesus was in the midst of His ministry, at the end of His life, Pilate had gone into the Temple where Galileans where offering sacrifices and mixed their blood in with those of their offerings. The people felt that this was clearly because they had sinned somehow--that bad things could happen to good people, so clearly they had been quite sinful. But Jesus says this isn't the case. It's a level playing field. We're all sinners. We all need to repent. And what happens to us is just the result of life (and yes, sin has created a fallen world where bad things do happen, but there isn't a direct correlation between the badness of what happens to us and the badness of our sins).

It's not just a certain boycotting church that is at fault here. We all do it. We make judgments. We come up with reasons why someone is suffering the way they are. "Well, they've been spending their money recklessly." "She clearly was asking for it." "He shouldn't have been so spineless or he wouldn't have lost his job." We all need to repent; we all fall short. No matter what a small group of people do with their picket signs, my actions of love should speak more loudly.

So after setting the people straight about current events in first century Palestine, Jesus goes on to tell this this story about a tree that's not bearing fruit. It doesn't seem to have any correlation to the current events in Israel at the time or to the question of how is suffering related to the level of sin in our lives. But here's what Jesus seems to be saying: we may not always bear fruit (or do good works) in our life. Our lives may seem fruitless, that there's so much sin present that we should be "chopped down." But God isn't going to give up on us. He's going to patiently wait until we do bear fruit. He's going to care for us like that gardener who tries to do all he can to help the tree to produce fruit. And therein lies the hope of grace. The gardener, who is intimately connected to the tree, vows to care for it and fertilize it with the hope that it will produce figs the next year. He sees potential where the landowner only saw a waste of space. We all have potential.

I guess with God's care and patience--if we turn from our sins and turn toward Him--we too can give a fig. So to speak.


Lenten Art

We had the day off from school for parent-teacher conferences. After good reports regarding the boys' progress, we went to the Minneapolis Institute of Art. I took these photos there of some of the artwork that was representative of the Lenten journey:

The Temptation of Christ, Titian (Italian, 1516-1525)
a young demon is trying to tempt Christ to turn a stone into bread

Christ Driving the Money Changers from the Temple, El Greco (Spanish, 1570)
Man of Sorrows, Luis de Morales (Spanish, 1560)

The Crucifixion, Georges Rouault (French, c. 1920s) 

Crucifixion with the Virgin, Saint John the Evangelist and a Clerical Donor; Lippo Vanni (Italian, 1350-1360)
Corpus, Master of Guadalcanal (1700)
Lamentation with Saint John the Baptist and Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Master of the Legend of Saint Lucy (Dutch, circa 1500)
Lamentation of Christ, Hans Schnatterpeck (Austrian, 1490s)
The Lamentation, Alessandro Turchi (Italian, 1617)